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JEDDAH: Saudi Arabian heavy metal band Wasted Land will perform at what metalheads describe as “one of the most prestigious (music) festivals on the planet.

Wacken Open Air, the annual hard rock and heavy metal festival that attracts almost 100,000 headbangers to the town of the same name in Schleswig-Holstein, will be held from the first weekend in August with bands from all over the world.

Wasted Land won the Middle East’s Wacken Open Air Metal Battle in Jeddah in early May, earning the opportunity to represent Saudi Arabia at the international finals of the festival for the first time ever. The event was supported by the German Consulate and the European Music Week in Saudi Arabia.

The group will share the stage with some of the most famous metal bands from around the world including Scorpions, Amon Amarth, Blind Guardian, In Extremo, Pain and Beast In Black.

The band members are singer Emad Mujallid, founders and guitarists Ayman Al-Ghamdi and Ahmed Khoja, bassist Mahmoud Al-Tayeb and drummer Tameem Helmi.

Speaking to Arab News, Mujallid, Al-Ghamdi and Khoja said performing at Wacken Open Air was “unreal” and “like a dream come true”.

“With an opportunity like this, it really brings home the reality that you can do what you love,” Mujallid said.

Al-Ghamdi added: “Yesterday we dreamed (of finding) tickets for this big festival. Now, in (a) few days, we will stand on the stage with (the) best in the world. Just being there is an achievement for the first ever Saudi metal band.”

“For every metal band, playing at Wacken Open Air is an all-time dream. It is the final stage where the legends gather,” said Khoja. “We are honored to represent Saudi Arabia at such a huge global event.”

Formed in 2004, Wasted Land was at the forefront of the fight to prove that heavy metal could exist in Saudi Arabia. The band’s sound is a unique blend of melodic death metal and groove metal. He draws inspiration from metal bands like Suidakra from Germany and In Flames from Sweden.

Their journey from the humble music scene in Jeddah to performing at Wacken Open Air is one of highs and lows, breakups and reconciliation. The members have been through “an insane amount of line-up and management changes” – but each time they face a challenge, they continue to strive for success.

Khoja described 2004, when he started putting the band together, as a trial period.

“Times weren’t always so rosy,” he said, referring to the departure of some band members and the struggles of performing live, releasing songs on streaming platforms and promoting himself in his community.

“Our identity was basically hidden and our music games were stored in the basement,” he added. Fortunately, things have changed.

“The court music scene is in its best era today and the reforms have also paved the way for other businesses in the entertainment industry to prosper,” Al-Ghamdi said. “I hope all kinds of music get the same attention and support.”

Mujallid added: “I think Saudi Arabia’s music culture is flourishing right now and I hope it will be more open to supporting all genres of music rather than focusing on a few and ignoring others like rock, jazz, blues and even. heavier music than metal.”

The band members also expressed their appreciation to the German Consulate in Jeddah for its support and especially to the German Consul General Dr. Eltje Aderhold, who will attend the festival to support this remarkable milestone.

Wasted Land is one of the first metal bands to play in Egypt and Dubai and have also opened for international bands like Lacuna Coil and Moonspell.

They appeared in Saudi filmmaker Abdulrahman Sandokji’s documentary “Underground”, which followed the Saudi music scene. The group also released an album along with several singles and videos.

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